Keep The Faith


Banahan: return?
By P G Tips
March 22 2017

Bath seek a miracle on Sunday but it will take more than faith to get it. Highflying Saracens lost their last encounter with Bath and will be desperate not to succumb again. Bath have struggled in the Premiership since that heady December day, losing 5 of 7 matches and fading to fourth in the table, 10 points adrift of Sunday’s hosts in 3rd. The self-belief and determination of the opening months of the season seems to have drained with the seemingly non-stop injury list and even 4th place is now under threat from improving rivals. Saracens, enjoying home advantage and welcoming back half their top pack from 6 Nations duty look set to heap more misery on the men in Blue, Black and White. Bath can claim their own returners of course, but will they be sufficient reinforcement to see off the threat? A meeting between these two clubs is as much a clash of faiths as when the original Saracens under Salah-ud-Din confronted the Crusader Christians. The Saracens credo has for years been a defensive one: percentage, pressure and pragmatism to wear opponents down then force penalties to build a score. Tries as often as not are scored as the result of that defence: the stifling “wolf-pack” approach forcing opposition error to exploit in counter attack. Bath by contrast have set out their stall on a more attacking “ball-in-hand” philosophy, a promise of faith made by Bruce Craig when seeking a new DOR last summer. The free flowing style is part of the Bath legend and, when it works is delightfully potent: bitter rivals Leicester and neighbours Gloucester among those on the receiving end of hammerings in recent years. However, in 2015 that all came unstuck in the Premiership Final – Saracens grit grinding down Bath’s flair. Should we expect the same this weekend?  

The bookies, and Saracens themselves will certainly think so. Clear favourites for the bookies, Saracens have not lost at home in the premiership this season, despite a close call or two, Exeter’s draw the best result for a visitor to Allianz Park. With the Vunipolas, George, Itoje, Farrell and Maitland all available after international absence to join Brits, Hamilton, Brown, Wray, Barritt, Bosch and Ashton they have power, pace and points potential in all departments. Even if forced to rest some of their stars, they can boast an experienced, athletic pack and choose from up to 5 quality goal kickers- Goode, Bosch, Farrell, Lozowski and Malins.

 

The Bath faithful’s trust in the new coaching regime has been tested in recent months, the kick-chase game in particular getting some understandable criticism. If ball in hand is really “the Bath way” why kick so much? And, if kicking is to work it has to be better executed, with more conviction in the team response. With their internationals returning, Bath will be a tougher proposition than the team who slumped so lamely at Bristol and should be stronger than against Wasps. It is vital for Fotuali’I and Ford to win territory for Bath with their kicking rather than give free passes for Saracens counter attack. Charteris, Faletau and Louw will bring a harder edge of experience up front while Joseph and Watson sharpen the cutting edge considerably. Perhaps the best news though, is the availability of Matt Banahan, offering physical presence and strike power from the bench and one of the “heartbeats” of the team. This is the crunch time of the season, Sunday’s match the first of the last 5 with “The Clash” against Tigers looming two weeks later. Lose heavily against Saracens and Bath will find it hard to recover in time to do a number over their old rivals, as has become the end of season fashion for the past six years. That context is urgently significant. Tigers, breathing down Bath’s neck in the race for 4th, can sneak ahead if they win Saturday’s derby at Franklin’s Gardens – Bath will be hoping that Saints can do them a favour there. Saracens too sit on a knife edge, only a single point below Exeter – they will want to swap places to get home advantage for the playoffs. Then there is the small matter of Lions places for the star players or England’s Argentina tour for wannabes. There is no end of juicy sub plots or pressure to make this a must win encounter. A win on Saracens plastic playground may be unlikely, but Bath must get something from the encounter – be it points, performance or pride.

 

Bath have had a two-week layoff and a chance to rest and recharge their batteries. Blackadder wants his men to rediscover enjoyment in playing and names that as the “missing ingredient” recently – the secret to turning the corner. Bath fans will say a heartfelt “amen” to that – supporters want to enjoy the end of season run in too. They must keep the faith. To repay that faith the team must put in a performance, win or lose, to justify faith and build belief for the crucial final four matches.

 

Possible lineups:
Bath:

Catt, Batty, Lahiff, Ewels, Charteris, Denton, Louw, Faletau. Fotuali’I, Ford. Watson,Tapuai, Joseph, Rokoduguni. Homer.

Replacements: Obano, Charles, Knight, Ellis, Z Mercer. Cook, Priestland. Banahan

 

Saracens:
M Vunipola, George, Figallo, Itoje, Hamilton, Brown, Wray, B Vunipola. Wigglesworth, Farrell. Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Maitland; Goode,

Replacements:  Barrington, Brits, Du Plessis, Flanagan, Rhodes,  Spencer, Lozowski, Taylor.

pqs: qs:
Keep The Faith
Posted by: Comeonmylovers.co.uk (IP Logged)
Date: 22/03/2017 08:20

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:03:29:11:17:34 by Stuart Anderton.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: TG Kesmo (IP Logged)
Date: 22/03/2017 09:39

If Sarries play with only 2 in their front row we stand a chance!

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: P G Tips (IP Logged)
Date: 22/03/2017 10:52

Well spotted TGK -meant to put George in there!

PG



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:03:23:10:12:34 by P G Tips.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 22/03/2017 11:19

We will get humped well and truly. Fab write up as usual PG cheers. I feel that we are fighting for top six only now, which if we do achieve that will be something.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: hemington (IP Logged)
Date: 23/03/2017 08:58

Quote:
BathPatriot
We will get humped well and truly. Fab write up as usual PG cheers. I feel that we are fighting for top six only now, which if we do achieve that will be something.
Well aren't we a positive chappy? I'll provide some more gloom for you then. As we will be putting out probably our strongest team of the season (certainly for a long long time) if we get humped then don't bother with next season (or any future one). We might as well go on the pitch and wave a white flag. Sarries, Wasps et el are too good for us - we'll just give in.
We have a great team - if they play top their potential we should give them a very close game and if we play above our potential we'll hump them (cos they aren't used to having it up them). Think you need to think about moniker - doesn't seem very appropriate.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: P G Tips (IP Logged)
Date: 23/03/2017 10:42

Not quite our strongest 23 I am afraid -no Dunn, Thomas, Auterac, Garvey, Attwood,

Still stronger than many recent selections and I agree hemington- we should be looking to get the best performance possible -if only to build for the 4 coming ties, which could see us hold onto 4th.

PG

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: hemington (IP Logged)
Date: 23/03/2017 10:59

Quote:
P G Tips
Not quite our strongest 23 I am afraid -no Dunn, Thomas, Auterac, Garvey, Attwood,
Still stronger than many recent selections and I agree hemington- we should be looking to get the best performance possible -if only to build for the 4 coming ties, which could see us hold onto 4th.

PG

Are we (or anybody else) ever going to get the 'strongest' team onto the pitch at the same time? Incidentally do you think Auterac is stronger than Catt and if you play Garvey which 'weaker' player do you leave out of the back row? OK I realise they might make the bench slightly stronger but hopefully you get my point.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Flying Scotsman (IP Logged)
Date: 23/03/2017 21:14

It's 100% our first choice back line (unless you move Watson to 15 to accommodate Banners, but even then I think Homer deserves to keep his spot). I also think the pack is pretty close to 100% (for me Atters and Garvey in for Charteris and Denton; at TH Lahiff's been immense in loose so it's 50/50 between him and Thomas). The key will be whether we can be competitive up front, to give the backs the platform to run amok. If we play at full tilt then it's not inconceivable we can do that.

Head says Saracens, but you just never know. As PG says, keep the faith.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Boldngrey (IP Logged)
Date: 23/03/2017 21:48

What's a fan without faith?

Sadly I think the strength of their pack will be the deciding factor.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Bath Hammer (IP Logged)
Date: 24/03/2017 07:07

Of course BP wants us to win but. blind faith alone doesn't achieve that,, We have a stronger team but it will require some real stand out performances & a perfectly executed strategy for the entire 80 mins to win this one .

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Mike the Taxi (IP Logged)
Date: 24/03/2017 15:05


Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Bath Hammer (IP Logged)
Date: 25/03/2017 00:28

Quote:

RIP William Blessing

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 25/03/2017 17:54

Lets see.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 25/03/2017 17:54

Lets see.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 16:51

Keep the Faith, why??

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 16:51

Keep the Faith, why??

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Stuart Anderton (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 17:13

Because that's what supporters do.

Stuart

Editor of Come On My Lovers

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Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: Boldngrey (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 17:59

Quote:
Stuart Anderton
Because that's what supporters do.


+1

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 18:19

Point of order. That's what real supporters do.

http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1p7Mwi7pLXeM89TY2KFdDQ-UUDGSv1FKNdhYdrW-koAuRN3tsqCPfE3onFxuO-3cZ0057Tom1uJai3vjkz3dvY_Q/1998%20Euro%20Champs.jpg http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pFul9UAV5zEXOzeRc1kmmlgDKXTYTIlTnGoQzYelH6KzdCeU-exN0IGo74QN2OGvlSoEiVjzAESvHx9BFlBsNFA/Bath%202008.jpg

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: BathPatriot (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 18:27

Or suckers.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: multimike (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 18:42

Brutal honesty - the 10 change cannot come quick enough. I don't see more than another 6-8 points from the remaining games.
I don't think the coaching team is bad - think back to what TB walked into and in some ways being top four misrepresented Bath's current status.
BC needs to make continued investment in the squad, most notably in the back row and to cover for international absentees.
Most other things at the Club appear to be going OK but you can't make a silk purse out if a sows ear on-field and it shows when you cone up against a squad like Sarries or Wasps.

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 18:43

Now now David, you accused Frenchy of being a fair weather supporter a few weeks ago and now you are doing exactly the same! As I have been supporting for 35 years I am certainly not going to allow a set back like this deter my faith as it didn't when we were battling it out with brizzle for bottom spot a decade ago!

http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1p7Mwi7pLXeM89TY2KFdDQ-UUDGSv1FKNdhYdrW-koAuRN3tsqCPfE3onFxuO-3cZ0057Tom1uJai3vjkz3dvY_Q/1998%20Euro%20Champs.jpg http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pFul9UAV5zEXOzeRc1kmmlgDKXTYTIlTnGoQzYelH6KzdCeU-exN0IGo74QN2OGvlSoEiVjzAESvHx9BFlBsNFA/Bath%202008.jpg

Re: Keep The Faith
Posted by: CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
Date: 26/03/2017 18:46

Quote:
multimike
Brutal honesty - the 10 change cannot come quick enough. I don't see more than another 6-8 points from the remaining games.
I don't think the coaching team is bad - think back to what TB walked into and in some ways being top four misrepresented Bath's current status.
BC needs to make continued investment in the squad, most notably in the back row and to cover for international absentees.
Most other things at the Club appear to be going OK but you can't make a silk purse out if a sows ear on-field and it shows when you cone up against a squad like Sarries or Wasps.

Mike, I agree! I think the disruption of the GF saga has hit team morale badly and the coaches need to get their own men in and get the team spirit back. Time for a close season regrouping!

http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1p7Mwi7pLXeM89TY2KFdDQ-UUDGSv1FKNdhYdrW-koAuRN3tsqCPfE3onFxuO-3cZ0057Tom1uJai3vjkz3dvY_Q/1998%20Euro%20Champs.jpg http://zdgzqa.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pFul9UAV5zEXOzeRc1kmmlgDKXTYTIlTnGoQzYelH6KzdCeU-exN0IGo74QN2OGvlSoEiVjzAESvHx9BFlBsNFA/Bath%202008.jpg

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